Monday, June 2, 2008

Tigers? Oh, You Said "Tear Gas"!!!

Finally time to start writing a little more commentary, rather than just photos.

Quite an adventure on Saturday night. We went to the U.N. Concert at the Port Moresby International School, where Timble and Olivia go. (It's an IB school- like the program I did in the States- cool!)

Tess and I were quite surprised by the scale of it all when we got there. We thought it was going to just be the usual, small school production, probably inside in an auditorium. But they went all out! There was a stage with lights, flame machines, etc. It was outdoors on their track, which was grass, not rubber (or whatever they are in the U.S.).

The first mishap occurred when we went to get food. There were tons of booths with all sorts of food, and we decided on hot dogs, plaintain chips, and cake. Yum! The hot dogs made it feel like home. :) (Even though they were brats or something). While we ordering, however, an army of ants descended on my feet. I was jumping around like a mad woman and I couldn't kill them fast enough. It hurt like hell. My feet were throbbing for a few hours after that, but no problems now, and they don't even look too destroyed.

So, the show was excellent. It was an awesome chance to see the culture of the country as well as this part of the world. They did dances from Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, etc., all in elaborate costumes. Just incredible. I will post photos and videos soon.

Towards the end of the show, though, there was a quite part in the action, and we heard glass breaking behind us, which made me a little scared. Seemed like people in the crowd were fighting or something. But we couldn’t see anything, and everyone around us was calm, so we just went back to watching the show, though I was a little uneasy.

The show ended with incredible fireworks- it must have cost a lot of money! We read in the paper yesterday that the fireworks were sponsored by a company. But they certainly rivaled any displays I’ve seen in the U.S.

Once the show was over, we headed towards the gate. But it wasn’t open; they (the security guards/police) were keeping everyone inside the school grounds. Again, that made me a little uneasy- I felt trapped, and I was tired and just wanted to go home. Then they started letting us out in little groups. When we finally got out, the kids’ mom, Ellie, asked a security guard to watch us while she went to find Vincent, the driver. She was great about having her hands or arms on us at all times, looking out for us in the crowd, and I felt safe. We only had to wait with the guard for about 3 minutes, but in that time, Tess and I were nearly killed by a bad driver when he pinched us in between his vehicle and a parked car. I literally had to run along side the car to keep the gap from closing on me. Fun.

Anyway, we got back to the van, but only had Timble, not Olivia. So he went to look for Olivia and, of course, she shows up while he is gone. During the waiting, I was once again a little uneasy because we were in the old van, which doesn’t have tinted windows, and people were walking by sort of making faces or staring at me. Just felt like I stood out like a blonde, American sore thumb and it felt like I was on display. But, both of the kids were finally in the car and we were off.

There was a bit of traffic, but we were moving along fine enough, windows down, wind in our hair. Then we started to crawl a bit again as we reached the usual event traffic. All of the sudden, Ellie and Vincent start yelling “Close your eyes! Close the windows! Don’t look!” Tess and I immediately thought there was a bad accident and they didn’t want us to see the carnage or something. So I turned to Timble and said, “What’s going on?” And he said “Tigers!” Whoa! I didn’t know there were tigers around here…wait, what? “Tea-gers!” Ohhhh….he was saying “Tear gas!!!!” (in his Australian/British/PNG accent) Apparently the crowd had gotten out of control and the police had released tear gas. Our driver, Vincent, drives awesomely and defensively, and immediately wheeled us down a side street, away from the danger, and towards home.

I was still a little shaken up when we got back, and called Ryan to have him calm me down a little bit. Sometimes it’s just too much.

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